Category Archives: Articles

Lucan’s Parthians in Nero’s Rome

Nabel, Jake. 2019. Lucan’s Parthians in Nero’s Rome. Classical Philology 114(4). 604–625.

For an epic that recounts the horrors of civil war, Lucan’s poem refers with surprising frequency to an enemy far removed from the realm of Roman power: the eastern kingdom of the Parthians, a vast empire beyond the Euphrates ruled by the Arsacid royal family. No other foreign polity figures so prominently. The Parthians are said to have unleashed the strife between Caesar and Pompey by killing Crassus, the only man capable of suppressing the rivalry between the two commanders (1.98–108). They escape vengeance …

Alexander III, Darius I and the land acquired by spears

Degen, Julian. 2019. Alexander III, Darius I and the Spear-Derived Land (Diode 17, 17, 2). Journal of Ancient Near Eastern History 6(1): 53–95.

This article aims to shed new light on Diodorus’ episode about Alexander’s crossing of the Hellespont by bringing ancient Near Eastern evidence into discussion. I assume that Diodorus’ “report” is a nesting of three different narrative-elements woven to a composition which provides a purposeful view ex post facto on the event in 334 BCE. By showing that Alexander adapted Achaemenid strategies to legitimize his power over the new won empire as well his awareness of older Mesopotamian geographical ideas, this article argues that the Argead ruler exposed himself with predominant concepts of ancient Near Eastern kingship. The argumentation underlines for the most part that Diod. 17, 17, 2 is an intentional episode containing Greek-Macedonian propaganda and Persian elements. Especially the famous scene of Alexander hurling a spear in the coast of Asia Minor and the belief that the Persian empire is a gift of the gods root in Teispid and Achaemenid royal ideology. However, Diodorus’ portrayal of Alexander as the first of the Macedons who landed on the coast is an element of his propaganda used during the early phase of his conquest. Finally, this article aims to bring new insights into the discussion about Alexander being the “last Achaemenid”.

DPg: Ahuramazdā and the Creation of Water

Delshad, Soheil. 2019. DPg: Ahuramazdā and the creation of water, with a new text edition. Iranian Studies 52(3-4). 575-588.

Among the Achaemenid inscriptions, DPg has been the topic of several studies since the very beginning of cuneiform studies. The photographs prepared by the DARIOSH (Digital Achaemenid Royal Inscription Open Schema Hypertext) project at L’Orientale University of Naples shed light on some ambiguities of this specific inscription and led to the proposal of a new text edition of DPg. The purpose of this article is to follow the whole history of studies on DPg until today and then propose a new reading of the inscription and a discussion of related issues, including its unique creation formula and orthography.

A typological study of Voice Onset Time

Hussain, Qandeel. 2018. A typological study of Voice Onset Time (VOT) in Indo-Iranian languages. Journal of Phonetics 71. 284–305.

The stop consonants of Indo-Iranian languages are categorized into two to maximum five laryngeal categories. The present study investigates whether Voice Onset Time (VOT) reliably differentiates the word-initial stop laryngeal categories and how it covaries with different places of articulation in ten languages (two Iranian: Pashto and Wakhi; seven Indo-Aryan: Dawoodi, Punjabi, Shina, Jangli, Urdu, Sindhi, and Siraiki; and one Isolate: Burushaski). The results indicated that there was a clear VOT distinction between the voiceless unaspirated and voiceless aspirated stops. The voiceless unaspirated stops showed shorter voicing lag VOTs than voiceless aspirated stops. Voiced unaspirated, voiced aspirated, and voiced implosive stops were characterized by voicing lead VOTs. In the voiceless unaspirated and aspirated categories, palatal affricates showed the longest voicing lag VOT due to the frication interval of this stop type. In contrast, voiceless unaspirated retroflex stops were characterized by the shortest voicing lag VOT. There were no clear place differences in the voiceless aspirated, voiced unaspirated, voiced aspirated, and voiced implosive categories. The findings of the current study suggest that VOT reliably differentiates the stop consonants of all the languages that contrast two (voiceless unaspirated vs. voiced unaspirated: Pashto and Wakhi) or three (voiceless unaspirated vs. voiceless aspirated vs. voiced unaspirated: Burushaski, Dawoodi, Punjabi, and Shina) laryngeal categories. However, VOT does not consistently distinguish the stop consonants of languages (Jangli, Urdu, Sindhi, and Siraiki) with contrastive voiced unaspirated, voiced aspirated, and voiced implosive categories.

Special Issue: Marking 50 Years of Research on Voice Onset Time

Should we say goodbye to the Median kingdom?

Parker, Victor. 2019. Sollten wir das medische Reich aus der Geschichte verabschieden?. Klio 101 (1): 1-56.

In spite of some scholars’ recent arguments that the Median Kingdom, which according to Herodotus preceded the Persian Empire, never existed, the Medisms within Old Persian show that the Medes had developed both an imperial ideology and institutions for ruling. The Persians inherited both from the Medes. This suggests that a Median Kingdom did exist. Besides, Near Eastern sources, independently of Herodotus, attest to the existence of some sort of a powerful Median state, and Jer. 51,28 actually attributes imperial officials to this state. Close examination of Herodotus’ Median Logos further demonstrates that this passage contains so much Iranian material that one simply cannot dismiss it as Herodotus’ own invention. On the contrary we should acknowledge the existence of Iranian source material which on its own attests to the existence of a Median Kingdom.

Aramaic traces through coins in the Iranian world

Šafiʿī, Ibrahim. 2018. Aramaic Traces through Coins in the Iranian World. Shodoznavstvo 82: 125–166.

Aramaic language(s) in its four phases with different scripts on various materials have been found in Iran (mostly from the western part of the land where Aramaic-speaking communities lived). Aramaic language traces in the Iranian world have remained in a large diversity on the coins. Besides some reigns whose coins bear Aramaic phrases, some others just minted coins with Aramaic derived legends and/or used ideograms on their coins. Almost from 3th BC to 10th centuries AD Aramaic words with Aramaic, Pah-lavi, Parthian, Sogdian and Chorasmian legends used as ideograms in the coinage. Due to producing ideograms, it is impossible to read the original pronunciation of the words but this heritage can introduce а concept of a larger Aramaic presence in the Iranian world.
The earliest type of ideograms on the coins can be found on Fratarkā’s coinage in the Pārs province roughly from 3th BC and the latest belongs to Būyids’ amir of the 10th century, Rokn al-Dawla, who ruled in Rayy (al-Muḥammadiya). During this period, circa 1300 years, some dynasties struck their own coins with ideograms in a large territory from the Middle East to Transoxania and another one also used these coins in their daily deals as a currency.

Calendar as an Identity Marker of the Zoroastrian Community in Iran

Niechciał, Pauline. 2019. Calendar as an Identity Marker of the Zoroastrian Community in Iran. Iran and the Caucasus 23 (1): 35-49.

The article reflects on the idea of both calendric time and its material supports used by the Zoroastrians of Iran in reference to the identity of the group. The qualitative analysis of the data collected during the fieldwork among the Zoroastrian community has shown that a distinctive time-reckoning system plays the role of an important marker that strengthens the community’s Zoroastrian identity in the face of Muslim domination. In the post-Revolutionary Iran, the calendar is one of the key pillars of the Zoroastrians’ collective self-awareness—both as an idea of a specific time-reckoning system designating ritual activities, and as a material subject that acts as a medium to promote specific values and ideas.

Sāsānian, Central Asian and Byzantine Iconography

Overlaet, Bruno. 2018. Sāsānian, Central Asian and Byzantine Iconography – Patterned Silks and Cross-culturaL Exchange. In Birgit Bühler & Viktor Freiberger (eds.), Der Goldschatz von Sânnicolau Mare. Regensburg: Schnell & Steiner.

Archery in Achaemenid and Parthian Kingships

Panaino, Antonio. 2019. Symbolic and Ideological Implications of Archery in Achaemenid and Parthian Kingships. In Federicomaria Muccioli, Alessandro Cristofori & Alice Bencivenni (eds.), Philobiblos: scritti in onore di Giovanni Geraci, 19–66. Roma: Jouvence.

Achaemenid Royal Archers, Coloured glazed terracotta brick panels, Susa, around 510 BC

The present study is a fruit of a larger investigation dedicated to the ideological meaning of archery in Iran in the light of other Eastern civilizations, but also in the framework of the ancient Indo-Iranian epos. This investigation brought to light a number of historical problems.

An Inscription of Darius I from Phanagoria

Shavarebi, Ehsan. 2019. An Inscription of Darius I from Phanagoria (DFa): Preliminary report of a work in progress. Arta 2019. 005.

The present paper is a preliminary study of an Achaemenid fragmentary inscription recently discovered from Phanagoria, southwestern Russia. After a brief introduction to the discovery of the inscription, the preserved Old Persian text will be analysed and reconstructed.